(Updated) Meteorologists: The Tornado in Chase County, Kansas

This evening was an unusual weather situation with three areas within the same weather system where tornadoes were produced. The middle area, in Kansas, was not covered by a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch. That is an official product of the National Weather Service, so I do not use the words "watch" or "warning" unless it comes from them. 

So, how does a private-sector meteorologist let people know in advance that a storm may produce a tornado and that it is time to prepare? I don't know of a perfect way, but this is what I did earlier today.

I added the orange outline to the area where the NWS was going to issue its tornado watch (red). Chase County, where the tornado occurred, is under the abbreviation, "Dam" for damaging winds. That was posted just before 3:30pm.

At 6:05pm, it was becoming clear that a new thunderstorm was forming to the south of an existing line of thunderstorms. Meteorologists and storm chasers call these "tail-end charlies" -- that the spell checker changed to "tailwind."

The ingredients (tail-end Charlie, high Energy-Helicity Index in the area, favorable synoptic pattern) were there for a tornado from this storm. So, I wanted to give people plenty of time as no watch was in effect.

The NWS issued severe thunderstorm warnings on the storm as it crossed Marion County. I emphasized the rotation in the storm, which is a precursor to a tornado, when tweeting about the severe thunderstorm warnings on two occasions. 

Seven minutes before it produced its first funnel cloud, the storm looked like this from behind. 

About the same time, the radar looked like this: a classic tornadic supercell image. 
The top image is of the type of radar typically shown on television. 
The lower image is of Doppler wind data showing rotation. 
The NWS issued a tornado warning after receiving a funnel cloud (tornado aloft) report from the same area. 
Here is video of one of the tornadoes... that were up to EF-2 intensity

Tomorrow, the Wichita NWS will do a damage survey of the tornado's path. Lisa Teachman and her team of meteorologists did an outstanding job this evening with live images of the tornado even though it was dark. In the meantime, the three preliminary tornado tracks are below with the Beginning and End of each noted. White and reds are higher confidence of a tornado's location. 
There has been one injury reported, so far. That was the driver of a tractor-trailer that was blown off the road by the tornado. 

Addition, Friday April 21: Turns out there were eight tornado tracks rather than three. The official NWS map is below. There were three minor injuries; no deaths. 
Color code:
  • Yellow = EF-2 intensity.
  • Green = EF-1
  • Blue = EF-0

Note: While I correctly forecast the Chase Co. tornado, I did not forecast the tornadoes in central Oklahoma that the NWS SPC did correctly forecast. 

It will be interesting to see if I get any reader feedback as to the supplemental coverage on the blog and on Twitter. Thanks for reading. 


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